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Sylvia Park's Parent Centre


Key content

Sylvia Park does not assume the answers are readily available. An integral part of the school’s vision is building an effective school-community learning partnership. Sylvia Park puts its philosophy of full parental involvement into practice by providing a separate physical space for parents and families within the school: the Sylvia Park Parents’ Centre. The centre’s leader works proactively with parents. This involves sharing assessment data to inform parents of how their children are achieving and what they need to learn next. It involves consulting with parents about learning programmes and reports on student achievement. Here, Pasifika parents can learn the specific questions they need to ask about their child’s learning and progress. As a result, Pasifika parents increasingly share the responsibility for their child’s learning in Sylvia Park school.

“A key message emerging from the New Zealand and international research is that effective centre/school-home partnerships can strengthen supports for children’s learning in both home and school settings… The benefits can not only enhance the well-being, behaviour and achievement of children and young people but can also persist into adult life and civic participation. Some studies have also demonstrated considerable benefits for the parents and whānau involved in constructive partnerships.”
The Complexity of Community and Family Influences on Children’s Achievement in New Zealand: Best Evidence Synthesis, page 143


Thanks to the Principals, staff and students of Aorere College, McAuley High School, Mangere Bridge School, Sylvia Park School, Mary MacKillop School and Wymondley Road Primary School for their contribution.

Things to think about

  • Do you want the parents of your Pasifika students to be more involved with the school? What do you do to encourage this? What responses do you get?
  • Is the idea of a parents’ centre worth considering for your school? How would you go about this in ways that would improve the achievement and well-being of your Pasifika students?
  • What strategies have you shared with the parents and families of your Pasifika students? Have they helped with their learning, both at home and in school? How do you know?
  • Do you think the parents and families of your Pasifika students know the specific questions they need to ask about their child’s progress at school? Would you say that the conversations you have with the parents of your Pasifika students develop these understandings?


ACTUALITY – parents at parent centre

Barbara Alaalatoa
Mutukaroa is a physical space at the school, so it's kind of like what we want to do for our parents, is to say you've got a place here, so it's really important and we've had a big launch and had a big celebration for the opening of it and the sort of the announcement of your place at school which is nice because sometimes when parents come in they sort of tend to stay in the corridors or hang around the classrooms, and it can be really intimidating for parents to go into classrooms and stuff like that so it’s a place at school. 
Ariana works closely with staff to make sure that they are finding out information that she is finding out, and at the same time she needs to be the sort of person our community feels really comfortable with. So you know she is humorous, but she is also very focussed.

Ariana Williams
My job is to get parents in or see them where they want to be seen, at church or at a marae and work with them through their kid's assessment as it comes up. So as soon as they have done their assessment, I ring them up and try to catch up with them straight away.

Barbara Alaalatoa
When you're talking about student achievement data you know people get quite nervous, and I guess one of the things that we found is that often parents, when you ring them, they think, what is the school ringing for and it's that kind of you know some things up. And so when you start talking to them, it's still a bit kind of you know where's this all leading because you're kind of not been used to getting an hour long appointment or 45 minute appointment to talk in depth about your student's learning.

Actuality – Ariana and Ana Manu assessing data

Ariana Williams
So with my job is just to go through the assessments, if anything else comes up I always make sure that that is the teacher's role, and I always say if they have got questions, you know the question now, you can go to that teacher and you can ask it yourself. If you get a good answer that is awesome, if you feel it wasn't adequate you come back or talk about it again, you know its still teacher and parent, I am just the extra helping with the assessment that child went through. I can also provide them help with the right questions that they should ask to get the answers that they want.

Ana Manu 
I like to think that I'm very supportive and very active in supporting my kids, but in my role starting from last year I've learnt quite a lot that I didn't know before. And it's empowered me to ask the questions that I think that all parents should ask, and I find that to be a mission for me to make sure that all Pasifika parents have this power, to know what to ask and get rid of that myth that parents, you know Pasifika parents don't care, because they really do.

Actuality – Ariana and Ana Manu assessing data

Ariana Williams
My hope is that all the parents in this school will know all the assessments from when their child starts to when their child leaves, and they come in and out of this room like it's their own. And that I don't have to play such a big part, it's the parents talking to other parents about the assessments that they’ve done and me just sort of facilitating or hanging around if the parents have any other questions. But my ultimate aim is this is the parents centre, pretty much run by parents, yeah, just so that they can take some ownership of part of the school and make it their own.